Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts

03 October 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Sage

Love the soft, velvety texture of sage leaves.

09 September 2018

Sunday in the Garden

I planted a wee pot of pineapple sage by the hummingbird feeder in late May as I'd heard its flowers were attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Well, for the longest time the plant did nothing. Threw out the occasional red blossom, yes, but otherwise just sat there, looking gangly and unloved. I guess it was gathering energy, because the pineapple sage experienced a huge burst of growth in late July and now, in September, has completely taken over a third of the raised bed. The spiky red flowers are quite plentiful and the hummingbirds have been skipping right over the feeder to get to the flowers.


In Connecticut, pineapple sage is best treated as an annual but I am going to heavily mulch the crown when the foliage dies back and hope the plant will come back on its own. Otherwise, its back to Agway next spring for a new one!


That's a 48-inch black steel shepherd hook the hummingbird feeder is hanging off and the vegetable bed is about 18 inches deep, making the pineapple sage around 2½ feet tall!

05 September 2018

08 August 2018

25 July 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Tomato Season

The cherry tomatoes are beginning to ripen! Hooray, for delicious red orbs.

22 July 2018

Sunday (Not) in the Garden

It rained most of today so I didn't get out in the garden as planned. Yesterday, I pulled the snap peas as they had just about reached their end and I needed a spot to relocate the utterly unhappy chard. Things have not going well at all for the chard, trapped as they have been in the sprawl of Brussels sprouts. This is my first year growing sprouts and I was not sure what to expect so I did not allocate enough space for them and they've taken over, nearly smothering the chard. They are at least growing the way they're supposed to, I think, and mini cabbages are slowly forming along the stalks.


Anyway, the chard have been dug up, replanted, fertilized, and watered. Hopefully all will go well with them from now on and I will soon be inundated with chard ... but not too soon as it's begun to appear in my weekly CSA share and there's a definite limit to just how much chard I can cope with before I make some regrettable smoothies. The limit is two. Two bunches in one week. More than that and I get a little chard crazy.

The cucumbers are in fine fiddle and are, I think, trying to put me to shame. Or actively going to war against me. "Oh, you human, you poopooed us. Dismissed us as weak and doomed to fail and yet here we are burying you in the fruits of our vines." At the moment, my crisper drawer is 70% cucumber and I have resorted to making pitchers of posh cucumber-lemon spa water.

Speaking of things I can't keep a handle on, the basil have bolted and are covered in beautiful white flowers. I feel I should be a bit cross with myself for not reining them in when I could, but they look so lovely in bloom and the bees love it. Who am I to thwart the happiness of bees?


15 July 2018

Sunday in the Garden

This week the flower garden is looking particularly good. Flowers are blooming all through the garden, and the colors are charming. Below is a picture of one of my favorite, Geranium "Rozanne," which I have planted in large swaths along the front of the house. Rozanne blooms unflaggingly June through September, always spreading but never sprawling, and just about the time the flowers stop in the fall, the leaves tint a lovely bronzy red. Also, pollinators love it.


Speaking of plants pollinators love, the butterfly weed is also doing well this summer. My mother gave me an envelope of dried butterfly weed seed pods a few years ago and I scattered the seeds in the narrow strip of soil between the garage and the front path lat that fall, not really expecting much, but figuring it couldn't do any harm. Every spring since, a plant has sprung up ... only to succumb to a terrible aphid infestation. Except this year. This year, everything is good. I am suspicious of my luck and have my spray bottle of insecticidal soap on hand, just in case.


Many of the drumstick allium I planted in 2014 have somehow migrated to the opposite end of the garden (I blame ambitious, excavating chipmunks), but are doing so well in their new home I am not inclined to move them back. Also, I am lazy.

I'm not overly keen on ornamental alliums, but drumstick alliums with their egg-shaped green and burgundy umbels are simply fetching. Mine are just on the edge of blooming, but will still be handsome even when overblown and blowsy from the the August sun.







11 July 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Cucumbers!

Wee prickly baby cucumbers growing from the female blooms. If all goes well,
I'll have So. Many. Cucumbers.

08 July 2018

Sunday in the Garden

I hadn't planned on growing cucumbers this year as I have never had any luck with them. It is simply less painful to purchase cucumbers at the farmers market than to fret over the plants as they, inevitably, succumb to powdery mildew or hungry critters. But then I took a vegetable gardening workshop which came with a voucher for a free vegetable seedling cell pack and I thought "What the heck! I'll get some cucumbers! If they die, they die and become compost to feed next year's garden." And that is how three bush pickling cucumber seedlings came to be in my vegetable bed.


Last weekend, while weeding the vegetable beds, I took a good look at the cucumber plants and was pleased to see they were covered in blossoms and tiny cucumbers. The cucumbers have, like most of the garden, positively thrived under my policy of benign neglect. I reckoned that, if everything went well, I'd have cucumbers in another week or so.

Well, today I went out to harvest more peas and discovered not one or two, but five harvest ready cucumbers! The first I saw was just hanging off the edge of the raised bed, playing it cool. I tucked the vine back up into the bed (to avoid death by lawnmower) and then went through the rest of the bed, carefully parting the leaves, until I was sure I'd found all the cucumbers that were ready for harvest.


While I've saved four cucumbers for sandwiches and salads, I immediately rinsed and ate one with a generous sprinkle of brick red Hawaiian-style sea salt. It was everything a cucumber should be. Hooray.

04 July 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Brussels Sprouts

Growing Brussels Sprouts for the first time. Currently, look like they're trying out for a Georgia O'Keeffe painting.

01 July 2018

Sunday in the Garden

This Sunday dawned hot with higher temperatures to come so I was out gardening at six, well supervised by Little Dude. He may be old and increasingly frail, but he still likes to observe the garden doings from his favorite outdoor chair cushion. If he weren't there, keeping and eye on me, who knows what mischief I might get up to! I mean, the last time he wasn't there to supervise the operation a whole swath of anise hyssop disappeared and that was not acceptable.


After a week or so of summery weather, the raised vegetable beds are looking dramatically unkempt. Everything is tall and shaggy with growth. Especially the weeds. Always, the weeds. Admittedly, I am bad at keeping up with the weeds, mainly because I can easily think of many more interesting/fun things to do than weed ... and then I go and do them. (The thing is, though, once I do start weeding, I actually enjoy it. It is so satisfying. It's just the getting started part which is a problem).


I harvested a serving bowl's worth of snap peas and another of bush beans, plus a large bundle of chard. The basil should probably have been cut back, because it's getting ready to bolt, but the sun was already warming the back of my neck by the time I came to that section of the vegetable beds and I felt it was better to retreat to the coolness of the kitchen.


23 June 2018

Sunday in the Garden

Our house is bordered on three sides by a deep flower bed. Ten years ago, when we moved in, the bed was mostly weed-choked mulch, dotted by islands of evergreens, azalea, and the odd clump of daffodils and hosta. I immediately removed the hostas (hate hostas so very very much), launched a (largely unsuccessful) decade-long war on the weeds, and began filling in the sea of mulch with perennials and more spring-flowering bulbs.

Dalmatian Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana)

It's a lot of garden for one not-very-dedicated gardener to manage and, next to my neighbor's perfect lawn and flower beds, tends to look quite unkempt. But the critters like it! The flower beds are busy with bees and butterflies. Chirpy birds and hustling chipmunk make their homes among the trees and shrubs. Last year, we even had a fox denning under our shed! This year ... well, this year we had a visiting bear. I will take all that over cosmetic perfection.

Recently, I've been trying to follow the National Wildlife Federation's Garden for Wildlife "Garden Certification Walk-through Checklist." Food, water, cover, and places to raise young are pretty well in hand, but the sustainable practices requirements are giving me some trouble. I use mulch and don't water much, but while that meets the requirements for "Soil and Water Conservation," it hardly feels like trying.

Cranesbill spangled with rain.

I'd like to get a rain barrel, but have yet to do so despite talking about it with The Husband for years now. It's just ... would we use it properly or would it just be one of those well-intentioned bad ideas? Like the compost bins, which seemed like a great idea, but were (in hindsight) badly positioned and poorly managed.

Anyway, if anything is really stymieing me, it's the "Organic Practices." Up to a year ago, I had a compost bin, but now all that compost has been worked into the vegetable beds and our green waste goes straight out (I know, I know). So no compost bin and I'm still using chemical fertilizers. Not a lot, but a couple bags of Miracle-Gro garden soil get worked into my vegetable beds every spring and I do water new perennial plantings with Miracle-Gro to give them, I feel, a fighting chance. It's a crutch, I know, and I could switch to organics, but laziness and lack of surety hold me back.

Also ... well, there's that constant feeling of the world ending in my lifetime, so what does matter if I never certify my garden? I think gardening is supposed to inspire optimism in a person, but lately all I feel is a resigned sort of pragmatism.

Focus on the delphinium & not the weeds behind it.

10 June 2018

Sunday in the Garden



This spring has been a weird one -- frequently cold and wet with abrupt moments of summer heat and humidity. But, mostly cold and wet. Unsurprisingly, my vegetable beds are not liking this weather. Even what I think of as the cool weather crops -- the spinach and peas, for example -- are growing very slowly.

My peas, which I had already harvested a few times by now last year, are barely a foot tall. The poor spinach took a knocking during the hail storm we had a few weeks ago, but sprang back and has put on some growth. As for the chard and brussels sprouts ... meh.


Of course, what's going to happen is the weather will abruptly turn hot and sunny, everything in the garden will go into overdrive, and I'll have produce coming out of my ears.

Especially after 29 June when my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) partial share becomes available. Yes, I know I complained last summer about being feeling I was a slave to my CSA share and that I wasn't going to do it again. But, oh, we know I am weak.

The share is through a different farm this year -- Gresczyk Farms out of New Hartford. My friend, Kelly, had bought a full share from Gresczyk last year and, frankly, her shares always looked great. Only a partial share for us this summer (eggs and enough produce for a "household [that] likes to eat vegetables"), but I still pick it up at the Friday farmer's market down from the library so I can still pick up other items like bread and pickles at the same time.


All subscribers receive a weekly email listing our CSA share for the week as well as a weekly handout with recipes and preparation tips. And, really, the weekly email is what sold me. No more being surprised by produce. I mean, I want to try new vegetables -- that is very much the reason I belong to a CSA -- but there was always that moment of panic on Friday afternoons last summer, when I'd find myself staring down at a basket of fennel bulbs wondering if I had the time or wherewithal to deal with them. Now I can menu plan well ahead of time and be ready to cook.

This is all presuming that the commercial farms are doing better than my own backyard garden, of course!

16 May 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Dwarf Iris After Rain

Dwarf bearded irises speckled with rain. Variety might be "Scruples," but I can't be certain. Transplanted from my mom's garden yonks ago.

09 May 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Dicentra spectabilis

This pink bleeding heart is one of my garden favorites.

11 April 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Stray Iris

The chipmunks have been rearranging my spring bulbs, again. This stray dwarf iris, 'Katharine Hodgkin,' has popped up under a blueberry bush.

04 April 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Crocuses in Snow

Purple crocuses undaunted by a little April snow.

08 November 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Seed heads

Seed heads from a woody garden weed. Birds seem to like it so I've left it be ... which means the vegetable bed will be full of it next spring.